The Cincinnati Bengals had quite the run following their Halloween loss to the Cleveland Browns. They didn’t lose again until the AFC Championship game in their second matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs over that span. What is more impressive is they won over that span without Chidobe Awuzie, the team’s top cornerback.
Awuzie suffered a torn ACL in the loss, but he still remained in contact with the team and his teammates. One, in particular, Awuzie sees some of himself in is the Bengals’ first-round pick from last season: Daxton Hill.
“When I first came into the league, it was the same way,” Awuzie told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I was playing dime, nickel, safety, corner. I took those knowledge points to, now I know what the corner is thinking. It allowed me to play a little bit more free. I would advise Dax that way.”
When Hill was drafted, many assumed he would be an eventual replacement for safety Jessie Bates after it was clear he and the front office wouldn’t be able to come to terms on a deal. However, he was forced into playing all over the secondary due to several injuries during the season.
Awuzie sees that as a blessing for such a young player.
“I would say for Dax, it’s a matter of, now that you have all this knowledge, use it and try to take something from each position that you learned,” Awuzie said. “When hopefully you do hone in on one position, then you know who is around you, what their assignment is. You know what their alignment is. That can lend you to be a better player.”
Hill will have huge shoes to fill when he replaces Bates’ role as that middle of the field safety. He has all the speed and coverage ability necessary for the job. What makes the difference between an okay safety and a good safety in that role is just understanding where the ball is going to go.
Knowing each of these positions and having hands-on experience covering certain route combinations could be fruitful for Hill’s future.